Through the tremendous voice of Little Onion, a slave boy mistaken for a girl, James McBride takes America's battle against slavery, including the infamous raid on Harpers Ferry, and weaves a story that is exhilarating, profound, and darkly funny. Recommended By Gigi L., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Liev Shreiber and Jaden Smith
A Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Oprah Magazine Top 10 Book of the Year
From the bestselling author of The Color of Water and Song Yet Sung comes the story of a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown's antislavery crusade and who must pass as a girl to survive.
Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry's master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town with Brown, who believes he's a girl.
Over the ensuing months, Henry whom Brown nicknames Little Onion conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harper's Ferry in 1859 one of the great catalysts for the Civil War.
An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride's meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.
"A magnificent new novel by the best-selling author James McBride…a brilliant romp of a novel…McBride — with the same flair for historical mining, musicality of voice and outsize characterization that made his memoir, The Color of Water, an instant classic — pulls off his portrait masterfully, like a modern-day Mark Twain: evoking sheer glee with every page." The New York Times Book Review
"You may know the story of John Brown's unsuccessful raid on Harper's Ferry, but author James McBride's retelling of the events leading up to it is so imaginative, you'll race to the finish." NPR
"A boisterous, highly entertaining, altogether original novel by James McBride....There is something deeply humane in this [story], something akin to the work of Homer or Mark Twain. McBride's Little Onion — a sparkling narrator who is sure to win new life on the silver screen — leads us through history's dark corridors, suggesting that 'truths' may actually lie elsewhere." The Washington Post
“Wildly entertaining….From the author of The Color of Water, a rollicking saga about one of America's earliest abolitionists.” People
"McBride delivers another tour de force....A fascinating mix of history and mystery." Essence
“Both breezy and sharp, a rare combination outside of Twain. You should absolutely read it.” Kathryn Schulz, New York Magazine
“A sizzling historical novel that is an evocative escapade and a provocative pastiche of Larry McMurtry's salty western satires and William Styron's seminal insurrection masterpiece, The Confessions of Nat Turner.” Booklist (starred review)
"A story that's difficult to put down." Ebony
"Absorbing and darkly funny." The San Francisco Chronicle
"Outrageously funny, sad...McBride puts a human face on a nation at its most divided." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
James McBride is an accomplished musician and author of the New York Times bestseller, The Color of Water. His most recent book, The Good Lord Bird, is the winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction. His second book, Miracle at St. Anna, was optioned for film in 2007 by Black Butterfly Productions with noted American filmmaker Spike Lee directing and co-producing. He is also the author of Song Yet Sung, available from Riverhead Books. McBride has written for the Washington Post, People, the Boston Globe, Essence, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times. He is a graduate of Oberlin College. He was awarded a masters in journalism from New Yorks Columbia University at the age of twenty-two. McBride holds several honorary doctorates and is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University. McBride lives in Pennsylvania and New York.